Don’t make a federal case out of it.
That’s essentially the message that a federal judge told the NFL and its players’ union in the legal dispute over Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension.
“If they have not already done so, the parties and counsel are directed forthwith actively to begin to pursue a mutually acceptable resolution of the case,” Judge Richard M. Berman wrote in his order on Thursday. The NFL issued a press release earlier this week accusing Tom Brady of destroying his phone despite league investigator Ted Wells earlier telling the quarterback, “Keep the phone.” The accusation sparked angry denunciations of the league’s sensationalistic public-relations campaign by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Brady’s agent, Don Yee.
Berman, appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton, received the case after the NFL Players Association’s failed attempt to make their argument in Minnesota, where the union received a favorable ruling in the Adrian Peterson suspension litigation. The septuagenarian jurist worked in the mid 1970s for U.S. Senator Jacob Javits, who served alongside New York’s junior senator in the capitol, Charles Goodell—father of the NFL commissioner—during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Goodell and Javits ranked as two of the most liberal Republicans in the body, with William F. Buckley’s brother James ousting Goodell via a third-party run and Al D’Amato primarying Javits out of the body in 1980.
The judge acknowledged the bad blood between the litigants. He noted that the “earth is already sufficiently scorched,” calling for more talk at the table and less talk in front of cameras.
“While this litigation is ongoing,” Berman explained, “it is appropriate (and helpful) for all counsel and all parties in this case to tone down their rhetoric.”